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Sixteen undocumented immigrants were packed into pickup truck, police say
As many as sixteen undocumented immigrants had been crammed into the cab and covered bed of a Ford F-150 pickup truck that was subject to a high-speed pursuit through two counties until it crashed in Dilley on New Year’s Eve.
Five of the travelers are believed still to be at large in the Dilley area this week, having evaded capture after the crash.
Officers from the Texas Highway Patrol, the La Salle County Sheriff’s Office and the US Border Patrol had made repeated attempts to bring the vehicle to a halt after it passed through Artesia Wells on IH-35 Thursday evening, December 31, according to a report on the case, and the Dilley Police Department and Frio County Sheriff’s Office were notified shortly after 6 p.m. that the pursuit was heading their way.
Officers from the Dilley PD were stationed at critical points on the outskirts of town to prevent the fugitives from driving into residential neighborhoods, according to Sgt. Angel Esparza, who was at the scene with Ofc. Eric Luna.
“We were advised that the vehicle was being driven erratically,” Sgt. Esparza said of the pursuit approaching Dilley. “He was traveling at speed, hazardously. We had to stop him from endangering the public.”
The report shows that the driver of the pickup truck steered off the interstate’s northbound lanes at County Line Road and traveled towards Dilley on the highway access road (Business IH-35, South Main Street) but only covered some two hundred yards before he lost control of the vehicle and wrecked the Ford against the Union Pacific Railroad line. He had crossed into Dilley’s city limits, Sgt. Esparza said.
Officers described the Ford as being equipped with a tonneau bed cover under which several of the travelers had been concealed.
“We immediately contacted the Union Pacific dispatch and asked them to stop all train traffic in the area,” the sergeant said. “We then succeeded in capturing three of the vehicle occupants who were trying to flee the crash site on foot, and the US Border Patrol and Frio sheriff’s deputies were able to chase down and secure eight more.
“Five of the vehicle occupants eluded immediate capture and ran into the brush,” Sgt. Esparza said. “The US Border Patrol deployed its tracking dogs as part of the manhunt.”
The Dilley PD is cautioning area residents about the fugitives who remain at large. Officers hope that community members will remain alert to suspicious activity and report any sightings of unknown persons or trespassers, Esparza added.